The changes in mental health during
By Meah McInerney, Reporter
Seasonal depression is more than just being sad or depressed during certain months of the year; it is a medical diagnosis. Due to the start of the school year and change of seasons, many students have been experiencing changes in mood.
“It’s a complicated diagnosis from a purely medical standpoint, but anecdotally I think there are a lot of folks that struggle with low mood and low energy as the winter sets in,” Neighborcare therapist Anna Waldman said.
Many people struggle with low mood and seasonal depression during the winter months, and managing it when the days get short is difficult.
“It’s stressful right now, but it gets a lot worse when it’s winter time. I like the rain, but when I’m in school just doing work for seven hours a day, and then having sports after school it definitely takes a toll on my mental health,” an anonymous student said.
The school year starting has also caused stress for many students.
“What I noticed in students here at VHS is that the fun parts of being back at school tend to wear off around the same time schoolwork starts to become more stressful,” Waldman said.
Students at VHS seem to agree and recognize that the start of the school year has added stress.
“I mean [the depression] definitely gets worse over the school year because it adds stress; it’s something I have to worry about over everything else,” freshman Thalia Cochran said. “Being already in a state you feel kinda stuck in is hard to get out of when you don’t know what to do to get out of it.”
Many people tend to have unhealthy coping mechanisms when in a bad mental state. Struggling students often resort to substance abuse as a way to manage their stress.
“I work for VARSA which is the Vashon Alliance for the Reduction of Substance Abuse in youth, but I see mental health [support] as the biggest prevention strategy for kids ending up addicted to substances,” VARSA representative Suzan McMann said.
The student body seems to feel that adults don’t understand, care or prioritize their mental health over anything else, including school related things.
“It seems like I’ve seen two very different sides, you got some that are like we need more mental health support at schools, and then the other ones like yes we need more mental health support, but we don’t wanna take up class time,” McMann said. “Sometimes the build up of that anxiety leading to that transition into school is very stressful because anxiety and depression can be, and generally are, connected. Many students seem to not have all the information they need to better themselves or help others. It touches on so many parts of wellness; I mean there’s physical wellness, mental wellness, spiritual wellness.”
Mental health is an important thing to be aware of, especially going into the dark winter months. With this in mind, the community of Vashon can help ensure a good winter season for all students and staff.